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New Survey of TheDream.US Graduates Highlights Career Potential and Persistent Barriers Facing DREAMers

For Immediate Release: December 7, 2021

Contact: Michael Earls at [email protected]


New Survey of TheDream.US Graduates Highlights Career Potential and Persistent Barriers Facing DREAMers 

Read the 2021 Version of “In Their Own Words – Life After College” Alumni Survey Report HERE


Washington, DC – TheDream.US, the nation’s largest college access and success program for immigrant youth, today released the findings of its annual survey of alumni. The 2021 version of In Their Own Words – Life After College reflects the responses of 998 TheDream.US alumni who have graduated from affiliated Partner Colleges. Among the key findings:

  • DREAMers are integral to America’s workforce: 85% of respondents were employed, including 76% in “essential” and front line occupations. Meet some of TheDream.US graduates and read their stories here about their career successes and potential.
  • Heavy reliance on DACA: 88% reported active Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status at the time of the survey, underscoring the importance of solidifying the future of the DACA program as well as legislation that creates a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers with and without DACA.
  • DREAMers face continued barriers to fulfilling graduate and professional school aspirations. While a combined 90% of TheDream.US graduate respondents expressed interest in pursuing a graduate degree, relatively few (17%) were able to enroll in a graduate program or complete their graduate degree. Securing funds to pay for a graduate degree was the most important factor in deciding which schools to apply to and attend. To support DREAMers’ graduate school access and ambitions, TheDream.US and Social Finance recently announced a first-of-its-kind $100 million graduate school loan pilot program to help DACA and TPS recipients attend graduate school (more details here).
  • Importance of policies that increase DREAMers’ licensure: 22% of respondents report needing professional or occupational licensure to work. Of those who need licensure, 56% have licensure to practice and 44% do not. The majority of those who do have licensure are teachers, while the majority of those who need licensure but do not have it are in the fields of healthcare (i.e. aspiring registered nurses, mental health specialists, and doctors), financial services (i.e. aspiring tax accountants), and law (aspiring lawyers).

More details on the survey and its respondents are available online here

According to Hyein Lee, Director of Measurement and Evaluations at TheDream.US: “With many industries facing a labor shortage and many states concerned about their aging workforce, TheDream.US graduates and the broader population of DREAMers are a vibrant and talented workforce primed to play a significant role in our country’s continued economic revitalization. However, as this report points out, DREAMers continue to face significant barriers that higher education leaders and policymakers at the federal and state level should address. From supports for DREAMers’ graduate education to licensure policies to the future of the DACA program and a permanent legislative fix, there are a number of issue recommendations that can help solidify and strengthen DREAMers’ professional prospects and, in the process, America’s future.”

“Through its 8-year history, TheDream.US has adapted to the changing needs and concerns of our Scholars. From broadening our eligibility criteria to supporting our Scholars with emergency grants to co-piloting a new effort to help DREAMers afford graduate school, TheDream.US challenges institutions of higher learning, businesses, and policymakers to recognize and address the barriers that still slow DREAMers’ potential to fully contribute and participate in this country,” added Gaby Pacheco, Director of Advocacy, Development, and Communications.   


About TheDream.US

TheDream.US is the nation’s largest college and career success program for immigrant youth, having provided more than 7,500 college scholarships to DREAMers attending 70+ partner colleges in 19 states and Washington, DC. We believe that all young Americans, regardless of where they were born, should have the opportunity to get a college education and pursue a meaningful career that contributes to our country’s future.

TheDream.US new scholarship round is open for the 2022-2023 academic year! We have  a goal to enroll 1,500 new National Scholars – a 50 percent increase in scholarships awarded compared to past Scholarship rounds. Learn more and how to apply at https://thedream.us/scholarships/ 

Meet TheDream.US Graduates

TheDream.US has over 2,100 graduates who are driven, resilient, and helping move our shared country forward. They are nurses, teachers, authors, computer scientists, research scientists, business entrepreneurs, nurses, policy analysts, social justice workers – all contributing to the social and economic prosperity of this country. Their stories are ones of resilience and determination. Meet some of TheDream.US graduates and read their stories here